MONDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2009
Dolphins top Stetson to stay atop A-Sun, 81-66
The JU men’s basketball program honored its three seniors on Monday night, but it was their underclassmen that shined as the Dolphins knocked off Stetson, 81-66, at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.

The win keeps JU (16-11, 14-4 A-Sun) atop the Atlantic Sun Conference standings heading into the final two games of the regular season.

Ben Smith led four Dolphins in double figures with 19 points, hitting 6-of-9 from the floor and 3-of-5 from behind the arc.

“This was a great night for our seniors and a great way to play their final home game,” said JU head coach Cliff Warren. “These young men have worked hard on and off the floor, giving us great effort every time out.”

Marcus Allen, a four-year starter and the 15th leading scorer in school history, added to his career point total with 11 points.

Assisting Allen in his final game at the Arena was Smith, Lehmon Colbert and Ayron Hardy. Colbert was in the running for a triple-double, finishing with 13 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.

Hardy had 11 points, four rebounds and five steals – hitting 4-of-9 from the floor.

The JU bench continued to shine, racking up 40 points against the Hatters (13-15, 9-10 A-Sun) – with 13 points coming from Colbert.

“Our young guys stepped up and made some hustle plays and some energy plays off the bench tonight,” Warren said. “Again, we need all 12 players ready to play for us to succeed down the stretch.”

JU came out a little slow and Stetson raced to an 8-1 lead in the opening three minutes of the game. By the midway point of the first half, the Dolphins had tied the game and with a 9-0 run late in the first half JU took a 38-28 lead into the locker room at halftime.

In the second half, Stetson battled through the first 11 minutes, cutting the deficit to three, 51-48, on a Mark Lohuis 3-pointer with 9:07 left in regulation.

But the Dolphins were not to be denied on this night. Sporting a 53-50 lead, the Dolphins scored 11 straight points – with Smith hitting back-to-back 3-pointers sandwiched around a jumper in the lane and a 3-pointer by Colbert.

The Hatters cut the deficit to eight on a Tim Lang 3-pointer with 2:14 left, but were never able to get back into the game.

Jacksonville now sits on the precipice of history, as the Dolphins need just one win to clinch at least a share of its first regular season conference title.

The next outing for the league leading Dolphins is on Thursday as they travel to Nashville to face the hottest team in the league – Lipscomb. Tipoff is set for 9:15 p.m. (EST).